Race: Tour of Slovakia – Stages 1a & 1b
Distance: 138.2 kilometers / 7.4 kilometers (ITT)
Bardejov, Slovakia — Andrea Peron sprinted to a strong 8th place in the opening stage of Tour of Slovakia 2019 notching Team Novo Nordisk’s 16th top 10 result this season. The day concluded with a short individual time trial where the team gave a solid performance lead by former Hungarian time-trial champion Peter Kusztor.
The 2019 edition of Tour of Slovakia started this Wednesday with a double duty day with the peloton tackling a flat 138.2 km stage early in the morning.
The cold temperatures and likely bunch sprint finale didn’t dissuade six riders from going up the road.
Alexandre Delettre (Delko Marseille), Kenny Molly (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Ramus Wallin (Riwal), Anders Skaarseth (Uno-X), Florian Kierner (Team Feldermayr) and Erik Fetter (Pannon Cycling Team) jumped clear after 10 km and opened a gap of two minutes on the peloton.
The World Tour teams then proceeded to control the sextet and kept them on a tight leash. With 20 km to go only two escapees remained at the front of the race but the duo was predictably caught with 9 km to go.
The technical finale stretched out the bunch but Team Novo Nordisk worked strongly as a unit and positioned Andrea Peron perfectly in the closing kilometers. The 30-year-old Italian was lucky to avoid a crash just before the flamme rouge and powered to a solid 8th place in the cobbled uphill finish.
Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took the win ahead of Deceuninck -Quick-Step duo Michale Morkov and Elia Viviani.
“It was a really hard finish, the field here is really strong. Poli (Umberto Poli) was like an animal today. He put me in perfect position with about 3 km to go. The last 2 km were especially difficult because there was a small climb then a downhill and a roundabout. There was a crash in the last 1km but thankfully I was ahead of it and it didn’t affect my sprint. The last 300 meters were slightly uphill in the cobbles and I did my best. It was really dangerous and I was focused on staying on my bike. I was 8th on the line and now have to focus on the ITT”
In the afternoon the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team took on a 7.4 km individual time-trial in downtown Bardejov. The technical course was challenging but all seven #ChangingDiabetes riders concluded the effort safely with former Hungarian national and time-trial champion Peter Kusztor scoring the fastest time for the team.
The “race of truth was won by time-trial specialist Stefan Küng (FDJ) who stopped the clock in nine minutes and four seconds.
This Thursday Team Novo Nordisk will race the longest stage in the history of the Tour of Slovakia a 227 km course starting in Bardejov and finishing in Ružomberok.
“It was a very long day. We started at 9am and now we just finished the TT. It was a very hard course and we did our best. In the beginning we had cobblestones and downhill and afterward it was pretty technical. Then we had four uphill sections and a lot of wind. The last 300 meters were uphill on the cobblestones. I felt really good, I could keep a good tempo all throughout the time-trial. Now we are focused resting and recovering for tomorrow. We have a 230 km stage and the forecast is for cold weather once again.”
Stage 1a Classification
1st – Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) – 03:21:48
2nd – Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 0:00:00
3rd – Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick Step) – 0:00:00
8th – Andrea Peron – 0:00:04
Stage 1b Classification
1st – Stefan Küng (Groupama – FDJ) – 00:09:03
2nd -Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick Step) – 00:00:03
3rd – Bob Jungels (Deceuninck – Quick Step) – 00:00:06
41st – Peter Kusztor (Team Novo Nordisk) – 00:00:50
(Photos: ©René Vigneron)